HONG KONG - Private equity firm Middle East & Asia Capital Partners Pte plans to introduce a sharia-compliant investment vehicle to its clean energy fund to attract Islamic capital, a company executive said.

We plan to create a special vehicle that will attract Islamic finance by adding a sharia component, said company director Vince Choi.

MEACP, which set up a clean energy fund in 2008, would expand the fund to $500 million from $400 million upon the launch of the fund's sharia-compliant special vehicle sometime next year, he said.

The company targeted a capital commitment of $100 million for the first phase of fundraising by the middle of next month, said Choi.

Asian Development Bank had provided the fund with seed capital of $20 million, while Overseas Private Investment Corp was providing funding of up to $50 million, he said.

The company had also introduced a regional commercial bank as the fund's third investor, said Choi, without identifying the bank.

We've set a 12-month deadline from next year to get the rest of the cash, said Choi. We're in the second stage of discussions with potential partners (for the rest of the fund) and I expect this will go on for a few months before we make a single investment.

He said MEACP was looking to invest in a range of renewable energy projects in Asia, with a focus on India, Indonesia, China, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. The firm planned to invest in clean power generation assets -- mainly wind, solar, geothermal energy, small hydropower and biomass projects.

The private equity firm was also looking at other investment options such as coal gasification and clean coal projects, he said.

Choi said MEACP aimed to be a private equity platform connecting the Middle East and Asia.

We see ourselves in a very strong position to attract Middle East money, he said.

Islamic financial products are designed to conform to sharia law, which prohibits the paying of interest and involvement in sectors related to alcohol, gambling and pork.

They have soared in popularity in recent years, with a large number of international financial companies seeking to tap large Muslim populations in the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

(Reporting by Leonora Walet; Editing by Chris Lewis)